The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Selah Janel
It was the rule of solitary desert travel: don’t leave the vehicle. Still, he couldn’t resist. It was there, larger than life, beckoning.
Not it. She. She was there. The only green in a thirsty, lonely world. The only living thing for miles.
He could easily snap off a few photos, use them for his next exhibition. He started to. He raised the camera, lined up the photo, checked the light and camera settings, even got off a few test shots…
And found himself walking closer over the ground so cracked and dry he was amazed it didn’t try to suck the ideas right out of him. His boots crunched over the ground, closer despite the oncoming clouds.
No animal, not even an insect, was around to make a noise. Only she stood: proud, sensual, defiant. He was suddenly very aware of how far he’d walked from his car, how terribly alone he was.
No, he was with her. And it felt good, right. He was supposed to stop there.
A strange, elated terror crept under his skin like wandering needles as he stared at her stretched limbs, her pose, the brittle bark of her skin. It was a spreading awareness, a bitter taste, a muted alarm bell that didn’t make sense.
How could she be a danger? She was the only thing there. She was right.
He couldn’t look away, even as he wanted to walk back to the car and the real world.
Feet stumble. Hands reach out to steady a body. It happens.
His hand tingled where it hit the bark.
It also happened that he couldn’t pull his hand away. It also happened that the tree (no, her) slowly took on a soft pink glow and began to shrink in size.
And it happened that his own pallor grew pale. He didn’t notice it at first, he was too busy realizing he was suddenly, horribly thirsty.
Thirsty for water. For fame. For purpose. For connection. For everything.
The hell?! He thought because he couldn’t ask. His mouth had sealed, his skin rippled to bark, his arms and fingers reaching beyond human capability. The thirst became desperate longing as the tree – no, her, no, human – pulled her hand away. She regarded the dry, dying thing stuck in the dry, dead wasteland with a proud, sensual smile, pausing only to pick up the discarded camera before she headed to the car, eager to be away from that place.
She was always thirsty, after all, and it was time to find more to drink.
Fiction © Copyright Selah Janel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Selah Janel:
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?